Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The beginning of the story

While decking the halls of my home with holiday cheer, I turned on the t.v. seeking some seasonal background accompaniment while hoping for something to put me in the right spirit. The Grinch, Frosty, Rudolph… any of them would suffice.
After more time channel surfing than my shortening attention span would allow, I eventually landed on Life is Beautiful, a movie about the Holocaust. Certainly, a holocaust movie was not at all what I was searching for to put me in the Christmas spirit; still, I had to watch because I had seen this film before. But this time it was more powerful. Knowing what was to happen, intensified the way I watched it. I knew the trials and tribulations the main character would have to go through, and this deeply touched me, as if I had an investment in his life. While watching scenes of the character in innocent, happy times, my heart ached for him, knowing what waited around the corner. I wanted to warn him. Somehow, my knowledge of how the story ended affected the way I looked at the beginning.
Finally, I had to continue decorating my house for Christmas and I pulled my nativity scene out of storage.
That’s when it hit me.
Setting up my nativity, I had that same empathetic feeling as when I watched the movie.
Carefully placing the stable on the table, I could feel the coldness of the holy family’s shelter on my hands. I knew what was going to happen inside those drafty walls.
I lifted my Joseph figure out of the box and placed him inside the shelter. His simple expression could not begin to hint at what I understood was in store for this earthly father---what he would have to go through to keep his family safe. Then, I held Mary in my hands and thought of her. So loving and peaceful. Her trusting words echoed in my head. "Let it be done to me according to your will." But could she possibly have known what was to happen to her son? I knew and I had this overwhelming desire to warn her.
Then it was time for the manger, simple and humble, to be placed in position.
Finally, I was ready for Jesus. So perfect and good –the figure was cast with a smile of rapturous joy on his baby face. Surrendering him to his manger of straw, I felt as if I were putting the lamb up for slaughter. And, indeed, I was.
I knew what was to happen 33 years later. I knew. God knew. Our Lord knew. And still it happened. Not in spite of this knowledge, but because of this knowledge –it happened.
Sitting before my nativity scene, I reflected on the Easter end of the story that begins at this Christmas season.
What a gift it is, knowing how this story ends. What an awesome responsibility we have, to take that knowledge and make the most of it—not just for Christmas, but our whole lives. For it is only because of this beginning and ending, that we have been offered the most beautiful beginning of all.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Something to hold on to...

The mound of luggage and laundry left at the door by my college freshman returning home for the upcoming holidays almost tripped me. As I stumbled to avoid a fall, something caught my eye. Right on top of one of the overflowing laundry baskets, was a very tattered, very loved stuffed animal named Simba.
Simba, the young cub from the Lion King movie, was a gift my daughter received when she was four years old. From that day on, Simba would be a part of her life. Through strep throat, chicken pox, various stomach aliments and even a tonsillectomy, clutching this cub was the best medicine for her. When she finally overcame her fear of spending the night away from home, it was only if Simba could go with her. So, it was not at all a surprise when I noticed the stuffed animal stuffed into the personal belongings she was taking with her to Miami University.
And, now, standing by the door, I picked up this precious piece of my daughter’s childhood and I could not stop smiling.
I smiled thinking of the messy young woman who left the pile by the door. Still so familiar in so many ways. She has the same way of talking like the rapid ratta-tat-tat of a machine gun; and the same way of laughing a laugh that leaves energy in the room long after she walks out. All that has not changed. But still, there is something different about this child who walked out the door four short months ago only to walk back through the door a young woman with a bit more of the world in her baggage.
Yes, I know it’s called growing up, but to me it is more like growing into the person I knew she always was. Looking into your child’s face and seeing both the small child who clutches a stuffed animal for security, and the young adult who has been living away from you for awhile, is mystifying. And yet, somehow, so right.
I understand she will go out that door more and more, and one day more time will pass before she walks through it again.
And so I find myself clutching Simba, taking comfort in the fact that, like the raggedy stuffed animal, I know there is a part of me she always takes with her when she walks out that door, and whenever she returns.
Dirty laundry and all.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Oh, Come, Oh, Come…..

As I sat down at the computer to reflect on my excitement of the coming holiday season, I turned on my I-tunes Christmas list to hear some seasonal songs.
“Oh, come, oh, come, Emanuel…,” the Advent choir joyfully sang.
Unfortunately, before I could clasp onto my holiday thought, my attention was captured by an on-line news headline:
“Wal-Mart worker trampled to death by frenzied Black Friday shoppers”. Reading about the chaos in a New Jersey store, my up-lifted spirit took a turn downward. I shook my head as I read about the dead man in the headline as well as four other people –including an eight month pregnant woman being taken to the hospital –all because shoppers were trying to get the best gift to give at five in the morning, the day after Thanksgiving.
“Silent Night, Holy Night
All is calm, all is bright…”
The music playing on my computer tried to lighten the mood and return me to my holiday state of mind.
But that wasn’t to last for long as my eyes were drawn to another headline:
“Two shot dead in Toy’s R Us”.
Again, I read in disbelief of men who pulled guns on each other after a dispute in the middle of holiday bargain-seekers in a toy store, the day after Thanksgiving.
My computer playlist attempted to combat this:
“Oh, Come all ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant...”
The next on-line headline seemed to mock the joyful words as it broadcast the news:
Terror Strikes India as death toll rises to 195”.I couldn’t even click on the details this time.
I had simply wanted to write about Advent. I had wanted to write about the coming of Jesus. But was now the right time to talk of baby Jesus coming into the world? Was it appropriate to celebrate Him coming into a world that just can’t seem to get the message right?
“Oh Holy Night” then played on my computer:
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…”
All at once I understood.
There is no better time to celebrate Christ’s birth than right now. There is no better moment to get excited for the coming of our Savior than when the world so desperately needs one.
“For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn…”

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Nothing to be thankful for...?"

While at the grocery store the other day, I overheard a lady complaining about the economy. "Things are so tight this year," she protested, "I don't think we have very much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving."
Now, I don't know her exact situation. I have no idea what hurdles in her life have been laid out for her to jump over. But I could see she was walking and talking. I noticed she had clothes on her back and shoes on her feet. And I am fairly certain she was planning on buying the groceries in her cart and taking them home to eat.
It is too easy to get caught up in the "glass half-empty" mentality when times get tough. We're human and we have our fears and worries. To say that times are hard for many people doesn’t paint a complete picture of the difficulty some are going through right now. What is more, with Christmas looming over our shoulders like a neon sign, inviting us to spend, spend, spend, it is more than natural to focus on debt,debt, debt. What we can't afford becomes more glaring to us than the life we have been afforded. But isn’t that the time we are told to give thanks? Isn’t this the time to truly count our blessings and celebrate Thanksgiving?
The Bible hints at this when the apostle Paul talks about rejoicing in his weakness and giving thanks for the thorn in his side. Granted, most of us aren't quite there yet -- but the point is clear that we need to have an attitude of gratitude on Thanksgiving –and everyday. There is no better time to thank God for what He has given us than when we have been made aware of what we have taken for granted for so very long.
I think the author, H.U. Westermayer said it best when he once observed,"The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving."
Who then are we to doubt our reasons to give thanks?
Have a happy, blessed, and grateful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

For Goodness Sake

Even before our turkeys have been sacrificed for our Thanksgiving tables, some people are attempting to sacrifice our Christmas beliefs.
Last week I got an email from a friend who lives in DC where the American Humanist Association has just plopped down $40,000 to run a campaign in bus stations for an ad that features a shrugging person in an oversized Santa suit. The slogan reads, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake.” Trying to justify this campaign, a spokesman acknowledged, "Our reason for doing it during the holidays is there are an awful lot of agnostics, atheists and other types of non-theists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion."
Isn’t that like saying, “All the Super Bowl parties are not fair to people who don’t like football, so we want to remove that aspect of it to make it more enjoyable for everyone?
And isn’t there a better place to spend $40,000 than to try to attempt to chisel away at the sacredness of the season?
When I would chaperone my kids’ holiday parties at their public schools, we had to be careful to include everyone. Kwanza, Chanukah, and Christmas were all to be respected as celebrations that a child might hold sacred. I never would have considered taking a piece of Kwanza or Chanukah and removing anything I didn’t understand or agree with simply so I wouldn’t feel left out.
But somehow, the Christian faith is constantly challenged in public. Will we say “Happy Holidays’ this year --- or will we come right out and say “Merry Christmas"? Will government put a ban on public displays of the nativity again?
Last month, the British Humanist Association began their attacks with their campaign which attempted to advise: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
A recent study reports that 92% of Americans believe in God. Do the other 8% have a right to voice their questions and comments? Of course they do; that is the beauty of our country. But do we have the right to defend our faith? Of course we do; that is the necessity of our times.
The question then, as we prepare for the holy season of Christmas, is what are we willing to do to keep Christ in Christmas? Or better yet, what are we willing to do to keep Christ in our lives throughout the whole year? We need to decide now.
For goodness sake.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Veteran's Day

I received an email from a fellow teacher containing a poem recounting his return trip home from the war –the Vietnam War. He recalled buddies left behind, some he prayed might return one day, others whose flag-draped caskets were the only return they would ever get.
Reading his emotional account of his re-entry into the real-world following his service to his country – my country ---hit me hard on this week of Veteran’s Day.
I was so young during the Vietnam War that I’m not sure what I remember about it and what has actually been planted in my mind from movies and old news footage.
As I grew, I thought the Vietnam War was, like World Wars I and II, simply pages in a history book.
Now, the war-pages of history are still being written.
Daily, we hear of young men and women going off to serve their country.
Last month, when one of my former students left for the Army, this living history became more real for me. I guess I always suspected the war was made up of sons, and daughters, and students, but as long as we can compartmentalize our world here and their world there, we don’t have to put faces on the soldiers.
But of course, they all have faces. They all have positions of importance in someone’s life. And right now they are in a position of uncertainty, serving our country.
Like the Vietnam War of years ago, so much is argued today about the rightness of the war that is currently going on.
But at least one thing that has changed for the better, is perhaps we finally understand that no matter what someone thinks of the war, the soldiers---both young and old--- helping to fight it, deserve our thanks, prayers and praise.
Throughout history, if we have managed to learn anything at all, it is that there would be no land of the free without this being the home of so many of the brave.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Election Reflection

The election that reignited the fire of patriotism in both citizens who vote faithfully every year and those who may not have even known where to vote in the past, is now history.
Never before have I witnessed the passion of a passionate debate like happened in America this year. Our country awoke from an apparent apathetic slumber with a new-found fervor.
Citizens who support life through their debates, discussions and ballots, worked overtime this election.
We did our homework, shared our knowledge and came to the test day as prepared as we could be.
Gratefully, we survived the rainstorm of campaign commercials, contrary columns, angry letters to the editors, and even … infomercials.
We stood on principal. We stood on faith. We stood together even when it seemed we stood alone.
We supported our beliefs, our candidates, our values.
And now, some wave a banner of victory –others a flag of defeat.
But regardless of the banner or flag that is being waved, wouldn’t it be a waste to have all this reignited passion for a purpose, all this reaffirmed commitment for life, go the way of our rotting Halloween pumpkins?
We can’t stop now.
It would be easy to feel we have done our part –fought the good fight and simply sit back knowing we tried our best.
But wouldn’t that be a waste?
We need to hold onto this rekindled passion for the possibilities of our beliefs, our values, our country and we need to move forward with it. We need to harness the energy of the last few weeks –the prayer, the solidarity and the determination, and make something good come from it.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, now that our votes have been counted by someone, we have to make sure that our votes count for something.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

For Alice

A poet once observed:
“The sweetest sounds to mortals given
Are heard in Mother, Home, and Heaven.”
I was thinking about this recently after attending the funeral of a woman who epitomizes for me what a mother should be: Loving, faithful, serving, ever-praising.
Alice Willig, wife of Ed Willig, was the mother of 11 children, 36 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. I got to know her as the mother of my dear friend, Fr. Jim Willig. When we were brought together to write his book, Lessons from the School of Suffering, chronicling his journey with cancer, much of it had to be written from his parent’s house where he was recuperating from different cancer treatments.
Alice’s love and care for her hurting son was actually palpable. You felt it the minute you walked into their home. As a mother, I understood. It doesn’t matter if our child is four or forty. When they are hurting, we are hurting. And Alice turned her hurt for her son into ways to help. From praying with him and cooking for him, to rubbing his feet after a weary cancer treatment, Alice served her son with a happy heart. Fr. Jim would often comment how doubly blessed he was to have a loving, heavenly mother in the Blessed Mother, and a loving, earthly mother to help him through his suffering. Alice’s role in his life made his devotion to Mary all the more natural. But Alice wasn’t just serving and loving her suffering son; she was able to serve and love all her children and grandchildren with this selfless, Christ-like love. And all the while she was serving, she was daily praying for them and their salvation.
We can learn so much from mothers like this: Moms who truly live their lives to raise their children in this world with the sole purpose of getting them into the next world.
We get so caught up in our ideas of the super-mom of today: the one who brings home the bacon and fries it up in the pan. But, if truth be told, there is no better supermom than one who spends her life showing her children Christ’s love through her love for them.
Today, we can all learn so much from the life of supermom, Alice Willig. We can smile as we think of the poet’s words once again:
“The sweetest sounds to mortals given
Are heard in Mother, Home, and Heaven.”
And those words are even sweeter when they refer to a life well loved and lived, and a dear mother who finally makes it home to heaven.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Homecoming Dance

While chaperoning the homecoming dance at Colerain High School, I realized the most dramatic dance I was witnessing, was a dance of friendship.
The evening began with the arrival of the students wearing outfits that sparkled almost as much as their anticipation which bounced around the helium balloon-filled air.
As a teacher, it is a treat to see the students in the strobe-light of a social function like this. Even the ones that may have given me a heavy dose of teenage attitude over a missing assignment’s penalty the day before, run over to me at the dance, seeking approval of their beautiful new dress.
It’s also fun to see who is friends with whom. It’s easy to assume the student who sits in my class knows only the other students from that class. School-wide functions make it possible to see the chains of friendship that extend way past the block schedule of a typical school day.
Taking my place in the back of the decorated gymnasium, I watched the interactions taking place amid the pulsating sound-track of their generation.
I watched as individuals would arrive without their group, desperately hunting for where he or she belonged.
I smiled as groups of students circled around each other mirroring one another, as if they were watching themselves in the reflection of their friends.
And in so many ways they were.
My gaze was caught by two sturdy teenage boys who began dancing a goofy fast dance across the back of the room, laughing as they mocked each others’ moves. I couldn’t help but to wonder how they found someone so like themselves in this great big world. Then, I looked over and saw two other teenaged young men who had obviously practiced the choreography of their dance for hours and were now debuting it for an appreciative audience of clapping young ladies. Again, I smiled and thought, how great that they, too found each other.
And in the middle of the gym, swayed the others, all packed together, being as fun-loving and goofy as possible, having the time of their lives. At just the right time, they had found each other.
That night reminded me how amazing it is that we find the people we find in our lives. Sometimes we forget how incredible it is that we have one very good friend, let alone others, who like what we like, laugh when we laugh, cry when we cry.
And when we are truly blessed, we find people who not only don’t make us feel silly when we act that way, but they’re also more than willing to act silly right there beside us.
Dancing to our own beat may be important.
But finding people who can stay in step with us makes this big dance of life even better.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Let there be light

In Genesis, we are told God said, “‘Let there be light’. And then there was light”
For some of us last week, it was not so simple.
After the remnants of Hurricane Ike blew through Cincinnati leaving downed wires and trees in its path, close to 1 million households were left without electrical power --- for days.
No power.
No lights.
No refrigerators.
No computer.
And for some, no phones.
This literally hit us where we live.
All our modern conveniences were suddenly inconvenienced.
Looking back on the blackout, I had a light-bulb moment. Modern technology supposedly came about to keep us better connected and to help us get through our days. Somehow though, the opposite tends to be true. For example, on a normal evening in my house, I can be found working on my computer, my husband is hooked up to his laptop, and the kids are connected to either an I-pod or X-box game.
Where’s all that connectedness?
So it is that when the power goes off like it did last week, we are left with only one thing: each other.
“I’m so bored!” my youngest walked around muttering, only 3 hours after the electricity shut down. “What is there to do?”
My suggestion of doing homework on the porch in the last light of daylight was not met with a positive response.
But as the darkness of the evening hours arrived and the currents of electricity never did, we all found ourselves in our back room surrounded by open windows allowing the calmed night air to blow just enough breeze in to make the flames of the candles dance across the room. My older son brought out his guitar and played some songs for us.
I didn’t know he could play that well.
Soon, my younger son started talking about what causes the winds to stir up like they had just done.
Who knew he had learned all that?
Later, my husband was sharing how he got a call from a recruiter who was trying to lure him away from his current job. Then he mentioned he gets a call like that at least once a week.
I never knew that, either.
Over the next few days without electricity, I was not able to work on my computer, cook or wash. We had our moments of impatience and, like so many others, would have to throw out any semblance of food in our once cold refrigerator. But what I was able to do more than made up for what we lacked due to no electricity. Because what I was able to do was talk to people in my life that I hadn’t had the time --- or more correctly –taken the time to talk to in quite a while.
Maybe God sometimes takes away the conveniences we have come to know in order to teach us what we really need to know.
Sometimes He brings on the dark, to help us see the light.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

God Willing

Trying to stay as informed as possible during this election year, I was watching a town meeting. The first person stood up to speak. “If the Democrats can maintain control of the senate,” the woman began her question, “and Roe v. Wade is upheld--- God willing…”
I couldn’t even hear the rest of her question since the resounding noise of what she had said was echoing in my head: The phrase “God willing…” was being used in connection with abortion! As if anyone could possibly think that abortion was willed by our heavenly Father.
The debate is heating up again.
But has this debate ever not been in the forefront?
Once where I was teaching, one of my fifteen-year-old students announced to another, who announced to another, until it finally got back to me, that she was having an abortion the next week. I felt sick. I mourned for two lives lost –the unborn baby’s life and the innocence of the child who was pregnant and making this life-ending “choice” that would haunt her forever.
As a public school teacher, my hands were tied. I couldn’t offer any faith-based discussion to this child. All I could do was pray for her –for her baby. And I did.
The next week came as did the end of the school year.
Then the start of the next school year began.
That’s when I saw the girl in the hallway and noticed the ever-telling baby-bump.
I certainly can’t celebrate a young child making a choice to engage in activities a few months earlier that put her at that life changing moment of teenage pregnancy. But I can celebrate a choice to not kill a baby.
I don’t know what her plans were. And I make no pretense of the fact that statistics point to challenges for that unborn baby if this teenage mother decided against adoption. But that baby had already beaten the odds and was living.
I will continue to pray for that young girl and her baby –as well as all women who daily are told by our society that it’s their choice whether or not the baby they are carrying lives or dies.
And I will continue to pray that fewer women will be in the position of having to make this choice. And that some day it will not be a choice at all. One day, the right of killing an unborn child will be universally understood to be wrong.
God willing.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Mother's Day

I suspect my youngest child will one day be referred to as a man of few words.
Perhaps it comes from being the youngest of four siblings who happen to have no trouble sharing their thoughts with anyone listening. Maybe it’s the apple falling far from the tree of his parents who have conquered the mastery of the word beyond that which may be healthy. Then again, it might just be the combination of the two and the simple fact that he has to work too hard to get a word in edgewise.
Regardless of the considerable conversational characteristics of the rest of us, I think it all boils down to the mere fact that my youngest happens to be a genius at getting his point across in other ways, when he sees the need, completely on his own terms.
I have seen this for his entire eleven years. Even as a toddler, he wasn't likely to give a hug when it was requested of him; but completely out of the blue, when the mood struck him, and only when the mood struck him, he would bestow upon me the most wonderful embrace that was all the sweeter due to its rarity.
When he began to talk, the gushing words may not have spouted forth frequently, but like the rationed hugs, loving words would eventually be delivered in beautiful packages, and savored for their preciousness.
So it is, on days like Sunday, I can appreciate the big picture of my child even more.
It began on Saturday when my little guy had just returned from going out with his dad to get me a Mother’s Day present. He hung around where I was working on my computer, leaning closer and closer to me. Soon, he was practically knocking me off my desk chair as he nudged as close to me as humanly possible without crawling into my skin. Knowing better than to ask what was on his mind, I just waited until he was ready.
Soon he was.
With no deliberate drama whatsoever, he simply began to tell me about a new friend of his who had lost her mother to cancer a little over a year ago. He twisted his body around enough so that he was looking into my eyes as he all but sat on my lap. And then the boy who sometimes only seems to care about sports and other things eleven year old boys care about, the boy who doesn’t say too much, astutely observed, “I’ll bet tomorrow is going to be really hard for her.”
Allowing himself one minute of sentiment, he put his head on my shoulder just long enough for me to try to think of something… anything… to say to a child about another child losing a parent.
And before I could swallow what felt to be my heart in my throat, that moment was over.
But then the next day came.
I was treated to my annual breakfast from my kids and then came the “giving of the presents” portion of the morning. Upon thanking them all for my gifts, I went to give them each a kiss and a hug. That’s when my youngest grabbed hold of me and didn’t let go. At first his brother and sisters thought he was just hogging the hugs; but I soon realized there was more to it than that. The prolonged hug was simply him remembering his little friend who was without her mom on Mother’s day and every day after that. It was, indeed, my youngest child’s way of proclaiming, “Mom, I’m so glad you’re here.”
As tears filled my eyes, I held tightly to my little man of few words.
Somehow I could hear, loud and clear, exactly what he was saying.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Grandpa Gethers

Delmar Gethers loved his garden. For years he had a garden that would put other gardeners to shame. It would put others to shame except for that fact that even more than he loved gardening, Delmar loved sharing the fruits (and vegetables!) of his labors with everyone. And he shared and shared.
Sharing was a big part of Delmar’s life. After losing his wife, his “Babe,” of 59 years, many expected him to fade quickly thereafter. Their love was just one of those you hear of where when one goes and the other is soon to follow. But somehow Delmar carried on. He fondly spoke of his “Babe” and how he would be ready to meet her again whenever the good Lord decided it was his time.
He continued on, keeping up his house, his garden, his life. He mowed the grass throughout his eighties and tended that garden in the spring and summer, even shoveling snow in the winter. When he was asked how he was, he would always cheerfully answer, “I can’t complain. No one wants to hear complaints, anyhow.”
And he never did complain either.
The closest he ever got to admitting aging wasn’t a walk in the park was when he once admitted, at the age of 93, “Compared to the eighties, these nineties are a whole new ballgame.”
One might conclude that his gardening know-how taught him what he needed to know in order to age so gracefully.
From his garden he learned, you have to plan ahead. If you are expecting something good today, you better have planted the necessary seeds early enough.
From his garden he learned, it takes a lot of hard work. It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it.
From his garden he learned, things don’t always go the way you intended. Sometimes, no matter how well you planned and tended your garden, the other elements affect the outcome more than you wanted.
From his garden he learned, patience. You really do reap what you sow.
From his garden he learned, you need to enjoy what you have today.
And Delmar Gethers did just that.
This morning, the good Lord decided it was his time.
So at the age of 94, he is once again united with his “Babe”.
We couldn’t be happier for him.
The tears we shed now are simply a gentle rain, and every gardener knows how beneficial rain can be.
Yes, Delmar Gethers loved his garden.
But he loved his family even more.
And we’d have to say those seeds were the best seeds he ever planted.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Break

Sometimes being selfish isn’t such a bad thing.
I realized this while watching all four of my kids play touch-football on a Florida beach last week while the sun was setting in the background. The selfish proclamation wasn’t a result of the way they were playing together; it was, instead, a result of the fact they were playing together at all.
Now that my kids are at the ages between almost adolescent and already adult, I have had to share them with every club, team, event and organization imaginable. Truthfully, I am pleased they are involved in various organizations and I certainly don’t need them around me 24/7; but occasionally there comes a time when each of us parents just don’t want to share our kids… for at least a little while.
And that’s where I was a couple of weeks ago.
I share my oldest child with the world in general, but specifically Miami University.
I share my next daughter with cheerleading, musicals, and of course, her cell phone.
I share my two boys with the baseball schedules that seem tailored-made for the child who happens to be an only child of very wealthy parents.
I was simply tired of sharing.
And so when my daughter’s Miami spring break coincided with my own spring break, which coincided with Grandma and Grandpa’s month in Florida, I began to fantasize about the whole family all going off together to stop that incessant sharing with others.
But I hesitated.
Would the teachers of the ones who were not on spring break be upset?
Would the drama director for the one who had to miss some practices get angry?
Would the baseball coaches of the ones who had to miss workouts and conditionings understand enough not to penalize the players?
Somehow that hesitation managed to push me over the edge enough to make the necessary decision. I guess the idea of having to ask for permission to take my own children on a family vacation was enough motivation to decide to do just that.
The next thing I knew, I was on a balcony at sunset in Florida, watching my four kids running, passing, tumbling, laughing. With only each other.
I stared at the moving silhouettes of these four people I love so much, marveling at how they were simply loving being together.
Soon the world will come again to occupy my kids. And I will be able to share them –--quite happily even, at times. But for that moment on that beach, in the afterglow of the day’s sun, nothing else interfered.
Perhaps I simply looked too long at the setting sun, but I soon had tears in my eyes.
As quickly as the sun set that night and disappeared into the ocean, the impromptu football game was over. With that same intense speed, so too will pass the years of childhood that at one time seemed to promise to be here forever.
But when I closed my eyes after that Florida night, I could still see remnants of the glow of the sun long after it set.
And with that same technique, in the future both near and far, I plan on being able to conjure up the site of four brothers and sisters laughing, playing, and just being brothers and sisters. And the best part is, I know they, too, will be able to conjure up that same memory for years to come.
Sometimes sharing isn’t such a bad thing after all.